Friday, 15 May 2020
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Social distancing in classrooms when schools reopen? HRD Minister hints at classes with 30% students
HRD Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal went LIVE on Twitter on Thursday, May 14, to interact with teachers and answer their queries regarding how education is being carried out during the Covid-19 lockdown.
Since schools and colleges have been closed for around two months now, since March 16, a primary question on everyone’s mind is regarding when schools will reopen.
While answering a question by Sambhav Jain from Madhya Pradesh on when and how schools will reopen after lockdown, he hinted that since social distancing would need to be maintained even when schools reopen, classes might need to be held with just 30% students.
"Looking at the situation now, it is difficult to say when the situation will be normalized," said the HRD Minister.
"The lives of teachers and students are more important right now," he added.
UGC, NCERT taskforces framing guidelines for reopening schools and colleges
Ramesh Pokhriyal reminded viewers that while a UGC task force will decide how to regulate work when colleges and universities reopen, a similar responsibility has been given to NCERT to plan for schools reopening after lockdown.
Both the UGC and NCERT taskforces would be conducting their own research and forming guidelines on this account to make a safe return for teachers and students to school.
NCERT has also been asked to create guidelines for academics, he said.
Social distancing in classrooms when schools reopen
While explaining the tough situation now, he gave an example of the kind of problems the taskforces are trying to tackle right now.
"How will a classroom be able to hold 40 students if social distancing is carried out?" HRD Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal asked.
"If social distancing needs to be maintained in a classroom, and if only 30% students are able to come, we need to see what steps need to be taken to bring in a proper system when schools reopen," Pokhriyal said.
He assured viewers that all such questions were being taken into account and schools and colleges will only reopen after lockdown after all the guidelines and safety precautions has been taken.
Pokhriyal didn’t say anything else about classes resuming with 30% students but it does raise questions about whether this will be the future of education in the Coronavirus pandemic.
What did the HRD Minister say at the Twitter LIVE interaction with teachers?
The Twitter live session with teachers was called ‘Acharya Devo Bhava’ and in the 1-hour webinar, HRD Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal repeatedly thanked teachers for their hard work during the lockdown.
Pokhriyal credited the teachers for their mental strength which was keeping education going despite the fact that a vast majority of teachers were not digitally savvy at all before the lockdown.
He clarified that teachers who are also CBSE board examiners and have started off paper evaluation duties will not be required to continue with their online classes or with their e-learning duties.
The HRD Minister spoke about Vidydaan, and the LEAP programme, through which the heads of educational institutes such as principals, headmasters or administrators can boost their leadership skills.
He urged teachers to use the lockdown as an opportunity to boost their digital skills and even more tech-savvy. He reminded all viewers to use the government portals to keep learning and develop their skills.